Moonlight Kisses at Willow Tree Hall, Alison Sherlock
Genre: Women’s fiction, Romance
Gah, I hate Women’s Fiction as a genre heading, so outdated. Men and women can read the same books….its 2019, not 1919.
Anyway, after having read the first three books this one was like meeting old friends again, with new ones in Jack and Lily. Although all the stories are connected you don’t have to have read them, each are stand alone romances, but if you have read them it adds a bit extra to the stories, seeing how couples are doing some time on from when we left them.
So many things about this book resonated with me, I share Lily’s List addiction, I have lists for everything. I don’t have Lily’s control issues though, I understand why she does but it makes things hard for those around her and in the early days at the Hall it makes it hard for the family and for Lily. She means well but its simply not working out.
I loved how all the characters pulled together, how the villagers rallied round, how Hazy Memory and the wonderful Alex were included in this story, not family but almost family by adoption.
Rose – I want to be here when I’m older! I adore her. When she’s talking about her Tinder dates and her sex life and grandnephew Sam makes an abrupt turn for fear of hearing more….Arthur, still the benevolent patient Earl, who sees beyond the obvious, who’s at much at home in Bert’s shed as he is in the stately grounds of the Hall.
Jack and Lily, a couple who are perfect but have past issues to get over first. Their backstory affected how they were today, the needed to look at that, understand it, before moving on.
Its a lovely story, full of little side plots and issues, of everyone pulling together for a common cause, of mishaps and mayhem, of the struggle to make the Hall profitable, or at least self supporting, of such wonderful characters, I felt as if I knew them personally.
Its chic-lit at its best, an easy read, some gentle romance, and a story to just sit and relax with. Of course normal things like Health and Safety, Food legislation, insurance etc have to be forgotten…. There’s no way today’s Red Tape would let half the things happen that do in this book. No selling cakes without inspections of kitchens, certificates, data sheets on every ingredient and traceability of it. No running a fete or launch without endless risk and safety assessments, signs everywhere warning of xyz, insurance to cover every possible event. I’m in favour of H&S, it has saved lives but somehow I feel we’ve gone too far the other way and where events like this were common when I was a kid everything get stacked against them now. The traditional British country fair is getting certificated out of existence, and as we see here it can benefit so many folk. It was wonderful to read things that I recall actually happening. I need to mention the apples though, 20-30 per tree is a pretty poor harvest. We used to get around 12-1500 from my four apple trees…
Lily’s family are struggling, all of them in a tiny cottage, her, mum, dad and granddad, and her dad has just given up on life, after his amputation. I found that a bit sad, life isn’t necessarily like that, most folk pick up and forge a new life as he is beginning to at the end of the book, but it was annoying to read at first, everyone mollycoddling round him, not expecting more. If that happens to you or yours don’t be like Lily’s family, don’t just assume for them life is over. I’ve been there, it isn’t!
Overall its a lovely relaxing read, full of country air ( I’m a country girl at heart), terrific characters, some slightly manic times, its a book perfect for a holiday read, or to escape real life for a few hours.
Stars: Four. Great relaxing read. Meeting the family again was like coming home.
Arc via Netgalley and publishers
Tangled Up In Christmas, Lisa Renee Jones
Genre: General fiction (Adult), Romance
Well, having read several of Lisa’s books now this one caught me out. I’m used to her hot and sensual, suspenseful and edgy reads, and this one – well it felt like Lisa Renee Jones does Mills and Boon. It was a fun read and I enjoyed it but I didn’t love it.
Maybe if I’d read the previous book I’d have got more from it, although they are stand alone reads. I might try the truth about cowboys and see.
Roarke, wow, what a man, hot and sensual he drips sex with every word. And horses, he helps horses, so how could I not love the guy. Yet I didn’t feel his excuse for not coming after Hannah was really enough. I also wasn’t convinced by her running away – did she love the guy or not? That though does get a proper and plausible explanation later in the story.
Of course poor Hannah is still in Hate Roarke mode, and yet deep down she still harbours feelings for him, something that’s obvious to the whole town, and which Roarke makes full use of. They end up having some steamy encounters, so maybe its M&B racy version 🙂 I did like that there was lots going on in the novel, not just Hannah and Roarke, but little side plots that added to the enjoyment for me.
Its a fun read, easy to follow, but although there was a lot going on it lacked real depth for me. I felt the past issues were glossed over too easily, especially with regard to her parents. I’m not sure I could be that forgiving.
Stars: Three and a half, more than just a simple Good read, but not the drama I look forward to in a LRJ novel that makes for four and fives.
Arc via Netgalley and publishers
A Lie for a Lie, All In Book 1, Helena Hunting
Genre: General Fiction ( Adult), Romance
I first found Helena’s book from the fabulous Clipped wings, still my favourite and just downloaded again for a reread. I’ve enjoyed others from her but also read some that didn’t hit the spot. This one kind of falls in the middle.
I loved RJ, and understood exactly why he was so cagey about revealing who he was. Having had a stalker issue, he’s bound to be cautious and with fame bringing out all sorts of crazy its sensible to take care. Of course that led to lots of issues further down the line, but he never outright lied, just didn’t tell all and I thought once she knew the truth Lainey was a bit harsh to him over that.
I understood her issues, she’d been through a huge trauma. As a parent myself understood where her parents were coming from too, but of course at 25 no-one wants to still be having to run decisions by parents, and it was well past time for them to accept that.
When something happens in the novel I had a feeling it would lead to….and I was right. TBH I’m getting a little tired of that trope, its becoming too predictable. Maybe I’m just choosing wrong books though 😉 It then takes up a large part of the novel naturally, and becomes the focus of whether they can make it as a couple or not. I understood the characters, why they acted as they did, I enjoyed the story but wasn’t glued to it, and it won’t be a re-reader for me.
Stars: Three, an easy, relaxing read, but a little short on plot and drama for me.
Arc via Netgalley
Wolf’s Bane (Moon Marked Book 1) Aimee Easterling
Genre:Sci-fi and Fantasy, Romance.
I love fantasy/romance reads, but so may of these seem to be all grunting, monosyllabic alphas, reverse harems or ones where the romance is all the book, no side/sub plots, no overall story line. Still, it means when I do find a read I enjoy then its like a sweet victory!
I added this one last week, it was free at the time, so nothing to lose and I’d enjoyed the sample. I’ve just bought books two and three, as it was an intriguing read, and I’ll be looking at what else Aimee has written.
Mai is great, she’s a Kitsune, Japanese fox shifter. I’ve come across these occasionally – I think the last one was in a Hailey Edwards read as a secondary character, and the Kitsune premise fascinates me. They’re not just shape shifters, but have a kind of fox nature in the way they think and behave, and usually they have some form of magic. Aimee has added a touch here where that magic is connected closely to Mai, and allows her to create real items, her sword for example, within a split second, but it needs to stay physically connected to her or she weakens. I’m still getting my head around the star ball that Kitsunes in this book have, that allows the magic.
Mai is guardian to her younger sister, and struggling. She doesn’t know any other Kitsunes, they live in a city controlled by werewolves, and she needs to tread carefully, as they see Kitsunes as something to be killed.
Its an interesting story, full of some very real characters, sub plots that add up to the whole, the star ball connection to magic, and of course poor Mai doesn’t have anyone she can ask for help to learn more about what they are. She’s never met another Kitsune. Her dead mother offers some cryptic comments at times in Mai’s head, but they’re beyond my understanding, and mostly Mai doesn’t see the logic til too late either. I do like that connection though, and trying to puzzle out what the heck she means by her strange phrases.
There’s a developing romance but its still early days, and apart from a couple of stolen kisses hasn’t gone further. So many fantasy romance reads make the romance all the story, held up by the tiniest of plots, and for me I want all the mystery, the magic, the struggles, with the romance being there but as part of the story, not all of it.
Stars: Four, a fun read, and a good start to the trilogy.
Book purchase – I do buy books in addition to receiving ARCs and having KU!
Bloody Creek Murder, A Winston Radhauser Mystery 6, Susan Clayton-Goldner
General Fiction (Adult), Mystery and thrillers.
Well, by now Radhauser is feeling a bit like an old friend. I know if ever I had need of the police I want someone like him on the case. He’s moral, dedicated but not one of those folk who want to find someone to blame, anyone will do, for him it needs to be the right person.
This book shows too well the pressures the police often face by the media to find a culprit, but like Radhauser I feel finding the actual person who did the crime is important, not just someone to keep the police looking good in the eyes of the media. In this day though, when appearance is all, when money, elections, voting and popularity are so important its simple to be sucked in and take the easy route, not necessarily the correct route.
Once more Susan delivers a well written and complex story, with multiple possible culprits, and side plots that at first seem diverse but which slowly link up. I’m hooked as ever trying to work out whodunnit…and even with the benefit of knowing more than Radhauser what went on, it still took me some time before I could finally piece all the parts together.
Its not as simple though as finding the murderer, but finding the motive too, and of course that brings in so much of the past, of hard times for the people concerned, that my emotions for them were all over the place.
I like this kind of mystery, where we look at why as well as how, at what makes people do things, why they act that way. I want to get to know the characters, their feelings, what drives them, and here they were so well drawn I could visually picture them, really got a sense of who they were.
The secondary plot too, involving one of Radhauser’s cold cases, was incredibly moving, and the epilogue for that was great to read. I’d like to think that if this happened, and I’m sure it does, that it would end like this. Hard for all concerned to do the right thing.
Stars: Five, another cracking story that had me gripped. I think you’ll get more if you’ve read earlier Radhauser novels but having said that, this could easily be read as a stand alone book.
ARC supplied by author
Storm Cursed, A Mercy Thompson novel, Patricia Briggs
Genre: Sci-fi and Fantasy
My all time favourite fantasy author, others come close but she’s still Queen of Fantasy for me, so when I saw this I just had to request it.
I’ve read and reread all the books multiple times and even now find things I’ve missed on previous readings. Its a fabulous series, and unlike some that go on to become long running but tired, its still as fresh as the first one.
Each story is complete but part of a long term story arc.
What I love about good authors is the way they bring in what I think of as story seeds, the little hints that are easy to miss, that become part of bigger plots further down the line, sometimes books later.
Sherwood Post is one of those, we met him a few books back, he’s grown in person as we meet him more and he plays a big part in this book. Being a fellow leg amputee I have a real soft spot for him, and it was great to slowly see more of him in this story.
He’s had a tangled history with witches, can’t recall his past but retains an awful lot of instinctive fear about witchcraft, so its probably a psychiatric issue more than physical one but who knows? The brain is a curious organ. Where usually werewolves can regrow body parts, his leg presumably was spelled in some way and hasn’t regrown. I feel for his struggles, and although he has a below knee amputation and mine is most of my leg his struggles are real. Patricia clearly either knows someone like this or has done research because unlike in so many books ( Horse Whisperer anyone?) Sherwood’s physical issues with his missing limb and prosthesis are genuine. I know, having struggled over the same things. In fact when he talks about his socket for his prosthetic I knew exactly what he meant, it was suggested as possibly suitable for me by a doctor in the early days, and though my prosthesist disagreed he made one anyway, so I could try and he was right. It was incredibly comfortable and perfect for those only missing below knee, but for people like me the weight of a whole limb was too much, and it just wouldn’t stay on 😦 I love that Patricia didn’t just give Sherwood a false limb, but made it the right sort for him. Small touches but those are what make her books so incredible to read for me. I can believe in them, can believe in the weird and wonderful types of folk she dreams up.
Once more its am amazing story, full of suspense and yet lightened with touches of humour ( nudge!!). I love that she brings in so many parts of past stories, and weaves them seamlessly with the current one. So here we’ve Mercy and the wolves still dealing with her perhaps rash proclamation, but the right thing to do, offering protection to the inhabitants of the Tri-cities. That brings in everyone in this story, the Pack, Elizaveta and her family, the vampires, and of course the Fae, including my much admired Zee and Tad. Zee’s actions here reminded me very much of his earth affinity that allowed Mercy and the others into Underhill several books back. I enjoy that kind of continuity.
Wulfe is in this story a lot towards the end and I’m kind of confused about how I feel over him. He’s a real mix, we’ve seen his seemingly uncaring, blase attitude to his menagerie, and to humans in general, his lack of loyalty to the seethe possibly in the Frost book, or maybe he was playing a long game, his strange abilities as the Wizard, and yet he seems to have a thread of doing the right thing running through. Is it because of morals ( unlikely) or just that it appeals to his sense of fun, his fondness for causing change, stirring things up? A bit like Coyote you never quite know whats behind their mechanisms. I guess its part of that long, hundreds- maybe thousands- of years of life, they like entertainment to relieve the ennui that affects some.
Mercy, well, I’ve loved her character right from the start, overlooked so, so often by Wolves, Witches, Fae and humans, yet she’s incredibly intelligent, with the strong sense of morals that guides her, and somehow gets others doing whats right. Adam ( swoon) has always seen her value though, and respects her even while he’s terrified for her as she veers into life changing difficulties. He knows that while he’s love to keep her wrapped up safely away from danger that’s not who she is, and their relationship would suffer so he respects her decisions and always has her back.
I hope she and the others have got lots more stories to come, this world Patricia has created and its evolution can take much more yet before the story gets old.
Stars: five of course. Another riveting read, taking me on a wonderful journey into another world. A book to get lost in, to leave reality for a few hours and immense myslef in the Tri-cities and its inhabitants.
ARC supplied by Netgalley and publisher
The Talon & the Blade, Grace Bloods: Book 3, Jasmine Silvera
Genre: General Fiction (adult), Sci-fi and Fantasy
I loved the first book in this series, but found it a little harder to connect with the second, and again with this one. That’s not to say its not an excellent read though, just one of those where I think I’ll get more from it on second ( or more ) readings. I love to go back to back through a series when all books are complete, really immerse myself and this series is one that will work well for that.
Gregor, he’s been an enigma since the first book, and I really enjoyed seeing his backstory, and seeing the attraction between him and Ana. It was interesting too being in another necromancers realm, Raymond is very different to Azreal, seems very distant from his Aegis, where Azreal and his people feel like there are respectful but friends, that he supports them in their actions. Raymond sends Ana off to deal with issues in this book with the minimum of information, which brings her into great danger. Gregor knows Azreal would never do that, and its interesting comparing two such distinct styles of rule.
I love that Jasmine has created such a fabulously different world, but it does take a bit of understanding. Fortunately the books have been released fairly close so the stories, settings and characters are still pretty fresh in my head.
Stars: Four. I enjoyed this story very much, just not as much as the first tow books. At times I was a little lost about what was actually happening, the story behind the story so to speak. I think re-reading will sort that though.
Arc via Netgalley and publishers
Six Tudor Queens: Anna of Kleve – Queen of Secrets, Six Tudor Queens 4, Alison Weir
Genre: Historical Fiction
I’ve only read the previous novel, from this series, and adored that. Alison did what I thought was impossible and made me feel sorry for Henry, a man I’d previously though of as simply arrogant and selfish. Sadly in this book we’re back to the man I really don’t like. He’s older, in ill health and yet still sees himself as he was in his prime, and ensures everything revolves around him and what he wants. People, places, church, state, all have to bow to the whims of Henry.
I know little of Anna, except that famous Flanders Mare quote, something Alison says actually appears to have no basis in fact, yet has endured through school teachings.
I really felt for Anna, typical of the time, women had little say in their future, and those with Royal blood were subject to the whims and needs of their families and country. Whether the line Alison has spun for her was true or not ,its very believable, and its easy to see how it could have happened.
I empathised so much with Anna, wanted to do right by her family, by her country, a lady in her prime married off to an ill tempered King,. He’s far older, overweight, poor hygiene, and yet who saw himself as almost Godlike, beyond any reproach, and who expected her to be thankful he’d chosen her. Even doing that he really did her a disservice, with all his exacting demands of which sister to choose.
It meant leaving her family and country for a man who’s already divorced one wife and had another beheaded before being widowed from wife number three. She must have feared, been terrified of getting on his wrong side and yet she accepts her fate, and does her best in every way to please him. She is a genuine Lady, treated her people well, was kind and loving to Henry’s three children, and would have made such a wonderful Queen.
Yet within a short time his wandering eye had lead to him seeking ways of getting rid of her. She’s stuck, accept what he wants, and live, but possibly be killed by her brother if she returns, or stand up to him knowing from past wives experiences he will get his way, whether by divorce anyway and shaming her if she objects, or possibly finding ways of getting rid of her the same way as he did Anne Boleyn.
Its a story that moved me, but I didn’t enjoy it as much as Jane Seymour’s story. I found it dragged in parts, and the huge cast of characters, most of which were unknown to me, became very confusing. Though I loved Anna, and admired the careful path she trod, trying to do right by Kleves and her family, even what was right for England, she had no real hope of success, and that’s clear almost from their first meeting. Its so sad, she just wanted a husband she loved and family of her own, yet was prevented from that very thing by her place in society. Henry, he was horrible here, and the man I felt empathy for in Jane’s story has degenerated into a bitter, surly and lascivious old man.
Much of this story is pure speculation, maybe because she is such a hidden figure in history, barely getting a mention in most places, but it does feel very possible. Sadly apart from that one big thing the rest of the story didn’t really resonate with me, and I felt the story was lost in the morass of characters.
Stars:Three, a well written story which I’m sure many will love, but for me it was a bit of a slog, and not one I’d re-read.
ARC supplied by Netgalley and publisher
American Witch, American Witch: Book 1, Thea Harrison
Genre: Romance, Sci-fi and Fantasy
I love Thea’s writing, have read many ( but not all) of the Elder Races series, and I loved the tie in here. Its very subtle, not a direct link, more a reference to the world setting.
I enjoyed the story, had me hooked very quickly and loved Molly and Josiah separately, but I wasn’t so convinced about them as a couple. There was certainly intense lust, but they seemed to flow from that to a full fledged relationship very quickly, and it just didn’t feel right. I felt cheated of the relationship growth, especially as for much of the time they were separated, for Molly’s safety.
The dangers facing Molly were twofold, first externally via her cheating husband and his machinations and secondly from her newly emerged and totally unexpected witch power. I loved Molly as a person, and cheered her on when she announced at the party just what Austin had been doing. He really was a typical selfish cheating husband. I had my thoughts early on about who the other party ( this time) was, and really felt for Molly when she discovered who it was.
Josiah seemed pretty cold, single minded about his quest when we first meet him, and he doesn’t realise Molly is unaware of her Powers. There are some terrific scenes between them, and TBH he was a character I thought I’d dislike. Sometimes its more interesting that way, than having the main leads be wonderful, likable characters right from the start. When I discovered his history, the reasons behind his quest I understood it. Its bring him and those around him into danger though, and I was full of respect for Molly when she said – for specific reasons) that she couldn’t be around that danger, and removed herself temporarily until he’d sorted it, even though it was heartbreaking for both of them. That brings me back to the turnaround in feelings though, where they’ve gone from 0-60, from disliking each other intensely to full on togetherness. It was just too quick, and I felt a bit cheated.
Its an interesting story, with some great characters. I couldn’t recall if it was a standalone or the start of new series as I was reading, but am so pleased it is a series. This book ends completely but leaves lots of threads open for more stories, and I’ll be lining up to read them.
Stars: four, a great start, just a few small reservations that stopped it from being a five.
Arc via Netgalley
Boundary Broken, Boundary Magic Book 4, Melissa F. Olson
Genre: General Fiction (adult) Sci-fi and Fantasy
I found the first book involving Lex and Quinn a couple of years back, and avidly devoured that trilogy, then went on to read everything else Melissa has written about the Old World.
This series and the sister one overlap with characters from each making cameos and being referenced in both. Its one of those series I love to reread, and in fact have recently just done that, working my way through all the books and novellas. I’m not certain if this is the start of a new trilogy, it certainly lays the seeds of a bigger story but this tale is complete in itself.
Its that same gripping writing as all the earlier reads, convincing me that witches and magic could be real, vampires and werewolves could exist.
Even in fantasy I have to be convinced that IF the supernatural world was real this scenario could happen, and Melissa does that for me every time.
There are no magical shortcuts, no solutions pulled from thin air but ones that are hard worn, take their toll on the characters and take me time to work out how things can be resolved. I’m usually struggling to find that answer until I reach it in the story – nothing her is predictable!
I love the mix of characters, Lex and Quin, Lex sister’s voice, chiming in on occasion, silent – constrained by rules – on others. There’s her brother in law John, father to Charlie, who’s had to be brought in to the Old World secrets because of Charlie’s abilities which make her a target.
Maven, vampire leader extraordinaire, she’s an amazing character, I like her even if she is incredibly pragmatic at times. She’s old, she hasn’t got to that age without some hard decisions. In common with many vampires and werewolves she sees humans as unimportant, and Lex balances that and reminds her of how there are better ways than just killing ones who threaten Old World secrecy.
Then of course there’s Simon, Lily and the other witches. They’re the mainstay of this story but there are others from past stories and new ones to meet.
I really enjoyed meeting Tobias again, and seeing how he’d progressed from the sad life Lex – or maybe Scarlet – rescued him. I can remember him clearly, just not which book it was…. 😉
Once more the story races along, events building to an incredible conclusion with little side plots happening and seeds being sown for what I hope are more books, further developments between the witches, werewolves and vampires. This and Melissa’s other books aren’t the usual supernatural light, fluff read, but more fully developed, real stories, events that feel genuine, and solutions that are at times hard to take. I love them.
Stars: five, another cracking read, another for the keeper files and I so hope there’s more to come 😉
Arc via Netgalley and publishers